I am lucky enough to make my living being curious.

I think. I write. I edit. I teach. Mostly about cities.

In 2014, I created The Cooler Minds, LLC, a business that empowers independent communicators from many backgrounds. Our current clients have included Applied Storytelling, The J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, Root ChangeDetroit Collaborative Design Center, and Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute + SPIANeighborWorks®/Success Measures®. I am a longtime fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Citizen Artist with the US Department of Arts and Culture.

I am an essayist and fiction writer. My grief memoir, “The Internet,” was featured in the astonishing first issue of TOSKA Magazine. Other recent work online includes Stalking Samuel Pepys and  The Quantum Nature of the S&H Green Stamp.

I teach, too. Here is something I wrote a few years ago that sums up how I feel about language, about writing, and about the teaching of writing.

So leave me a comment, and tell me: How did you find your way with words? Are you still looking?

email me at lisaschamess@gmail.com

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6 Responses to

  1. I think I always did, but it was a wonderful 6th grade English teacher who made me own it. His lively poetry discussions were eagerly anticipated. I learned that I might not be able to sing, but I could understand, feel, and deliver a poem. I went on to join my high school forensics team…just another opportunity to savor the words.

  2. lisa says:

    that’s lovely. i have been thinking this week of several teachers who influenced me that early too: Mrs. Alexander (3rd grade) who let us put our heads down or look out the window and drift on Fridays while she read to us…and Mrs. Cage (senior year of high school), who loved Thomas Hardy and could recite whole verses of his. She was a little demure older lady, so the passion underneath the exterior was an exotic shock. Now I’m becoming like her!

  3. afp says:

    my birthday is july 6th

    but im in poland

    neeed not met a prson

    willsee eye need not know

    i was wrong

    we hav no limits

    we horde explore

    we alpha

    we do not talk

    as of art

    master key



    what u mean

    where u come from

    hurting words past


    im talking to u for yars

    im talking and crawling

    in the house

    when my son came

    i left a comp for him behind a bulletproof pane

    hubble exoplanet is hive mind

    we think not much

    our light shine our close

    im proud


    and male

    for the time

    most interesting: we play

    with meanings and signs

    we can play today

    we have no lighters

    we poor ask

    we poor can not accept

    the fact

    that we






    writing and history of writing language

    any nation



    i write

    im proud and strong

    why open the book

    why we run that far

    just watch the night sky


    nice picture

    happy to slave ur tender stress


    envy sweet

    … 🙂

    hows the rhytm

    hows the sound

    children grows

    • lisa says:

      afp!!!!!!!!!! YOU FOUND ME!!!!! I have written about you here at this link and always wondered where you went! I am so happy to read this: SO HAPPY! Please come back and visit. Leave me your lovely words.

  4. Agree so much with what you say…..language is what ties us together. With Adrienne Rich, I say we have a dream of a common language.

    • lisa says:

      thank you, Mike.
      i do love that word, “common,” in all its meanings.
      our very differences–our uncommonesses–enrich and complicate that dream.

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